George Floyd's family files wrongful death lawsuit against Minneapolis police officers, city

Floyd died on May 25, pleading "I can't breathe" as an officer had a knee on his neck for over eight minutes, sparking worldwide protests against systemic racism.
Image: Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, gets emotional while speaking during the public viewing for Floyd at The Fountain of Praise church in Houston
Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, is held by Reverend Al Sharpton and attorney Ben Crump as he gets emotional while speaking during the public viewing of Floyd at The Fountain of Praise church in Houston on June 8.Adrees Latif / Reuters
/ Source: NBC News

The family of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man whose death in police custody sparked massive protests against systemic racism, filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday against the city and the officers responsible for using "unjustified, excessive, and illegal, and deadly use of force."

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer representing Floyd's children and siblings, said their 40-page civil action filed in the District of Minnesota will continue an "important conversation" on the "pandemic of police brutality."

The civil complaint listed a series of violent arrests made over the years by the Minneapolis Police Department, arguing that city leaders have been negligent in reigning in police misconduct.

"It was the knee of the entire Minneapolis Police Department on the neck of George Floyd that killed him," Crump told reporters in Minneapolis.

"The city of Minneapolis has a history of policies and procedures and deliberate indifference when it comes to the treatment of arrestees, especially Black men, that cries out for training and discipline."

The lawsuit did not specify an amount of money the plaintiffs seek. But Crump said the final amount should be enough to make it "financially prohibitive" for police to "kill marginalized people and Black people in the future in America."

Floyd died on May 25 after he was handcuffed and put on the ground by police officers answering a call about a possible phony $20 bill being passed.

Officer Derek Chauvin was videotaped kneeling on the handcuffed Floyd's neck for over eight minutes, even as the the man moaned in agony, repeatedly saying "I can't breathe" and calling out for his late mother.

"Mr. Floyd did not physically resist arrest," according to the civil complaint. "Mr. Floyd was unarmed and did not at any point physically or verbally threaten the officers, nor did he attempt to flee."

Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder. The other officers involved in the deadly arrest — Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng — have also been arrested and charged with aiding and abetting murder.

"As a result of Chauvin, Lane, and Kueng’s unjustified, excessive, and illegal, and deadly use of force, Mr. Floyd experienced conscious pain and suffering," the lawsuit said. "As a result of Chauvin, Lane, and Kueng’s unjustified, excessive, illegal, and deadly use of force, Mr. Floyd died."

Pathologists hired by the family said officers pressed on Floyd's neck and body, cutting blood and air flow to his brain and causing him to die by mechanical asphyxia.

“George Floyd’s death is a tragedy," City Attorney Erik Nilsson said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon, following the lawsuit's filing.

"The city is reviewing the civil lawsuit filed by his family and will be responding to it. Criminal charges are pending against four Minneapolis police officers and it’s very important that the criminal case proceed without interference.”

Eric Nelson, Chauvin's lawyer, and Thomas Plunkett, an attorney for Kueng, declined comment on the lawsuit. Emails and phone messages seeking comment from Thao and Lane were not immediately returned on Wednesday.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com.